Couchsurfing for abortion access

Is there a social network or database of people who live in states with pretty liberal abortion rights, who are willing to host pregnant people who need to travel to get abortions?

Because I live in Maryland, and I’ve got couch space available for people coming from Ohio. Must play nicely with my cat. Free lodging, food, Internet, reading material, and I’ll give you a ride to and from the Metro station. Ask nicely and I’ll pay for Lyft rides to and from the clinic.

But, but, teh baybeez!

For anyone making a show of speculating on how many “unborn babies” lives were “saved” by the shooting at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs: absolutely none. Some of those fetuses might end up getting aborted at a later stage of gestation, at which time they’ll look more human, but those pregnant people still don’t want babies and laying siege to an abortion clinic won’t make them any more interested in adding more human beings to this world.

But don’t shut up on my account! By all means, keep telling us how you understand this act was a terrorist attack against abortion rights. Keep telling us about how the idea of those “unborn babies” is so much more important than the lives of breathing adults.

You LOSE, you get NOTHING, good DAY, sir.

 

Everyday American terrorists

There is now an active shooting situation in Colorado Springs, CO, in which several people, including 3 police officers, have been injured. It is near a Planned Parenthood. The location is probably not a coincidence. 

I hope the shooter is soon apprehended, I hope all the victims recover from their injuries with minimal complications, and I hope everyone notes the amount of damage done on American soil by people waving the “pro-life” flag.

Cargo Cult Social Justice: You’re Fooling No One

I’d like to talk about the rhetorical tactics on display by these forced-birth women claiming to be feminists:

According to Murphy, “the central tenement of feminism is equality for human beings regardless of sex, gender, orientation, race, religion,” and that concept should extend to unborn children. “To devalue the preborn life simply because of their location or of their dependency is an act of discrimination,” she said. “In what good society does improving one side of human rights involve harming and causing violence to other human beings?”

The word you want is “tenet,” not “tenement,” for fuck’s sake.

This type of argumentation is what I call “cargo cult social justice.” It’s where regressive social movements—and opposition to legal abortion is absolutely regressive—appropriate the language of progressive movements and think it works the same way. Ms. Murphy’s use of social-justice-derived language to support the cause of forcing women to have babies is especially transparent, but she’s far from alone in this.

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A pro-choice mother is not an oxymoron.

We have the news that Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, is now expecting her first two children. There are some anti-abortion activists who find this really confusing.

The reaction beyond NARAL, however, has been much more complicated, Hogue says. “There is this whole mentality that anyone who fights for the rights that we fight for must hate children and not want to parent,” she says. “So to have the leader of a reproductive rights organization — an abortion rights organization — show up pregnant, it’s just jaw-dropping.”

At one point, she says, she walked into a hearing on Capitol Hill and an antiabortion advocate looked at her swollen belly and asked, “Is that real?”

There’s no good reason why it should be jaw-dropping for a reproductive rights leader to show up with a baby bump. There’s no conflict between advocating for the option of legal, safe abortion care, and having babies. Perhaps the name of the organization (National Abortion Rights Action League) causes a teensy bit of confusion, but I assure that “abortion rights” is not equivalent to “compulsory abortion.” Plenty of pro-choice feminists are also mothers. This is possible because sometimes, people actually want to have children. They don’t need to be forced, and they shouldn’t be forced.

Their confusion over Ms. Hogue’s pregnancy sort of gives the impression that anti-abortion activism is premised on a view of children as a burden, and that people will only become parents if they see no choice in the matter.

I’m sure the majority of anti-abortion activists don’t think this way. I’m sure most see nothing wrong with Ms. Hogue becoming a mother to twins. I sure hope so.

Also: Congratulations, Ms. Hogue! Yay, babies!

Ireland’s acting like the setting of a dystopian novel.

This is the sort of thing that happens when a suicidal woman requests an abortion in Ireland.

The poor girl must have been devastated. She was certainly traumatised enough to go on hunger and fluid strike. The HSE went to the High Court to get a care order to prevent her from starving herself. Eventually, she surrendered and allowed the baby to be delivered by Caesarean section sometime between 23 and 25 weeks.

She did what the law asked of her: presented herself to a panel of three psychiatrists and told them about her suicidal ideation. The psychiatrists agreed that she was a suicide risk and should be allowed a termination, but the obstetrician stepped in and insisted that the pregnancy was far along enough for a live delivery and therefore MUST have a live delivery.

She tried starving herself. No, she wasn’t allowed to starve; the state took her in and forced her not to starve or dehydrate. As long as she was pregnant, she did not have permission to die.

This is only a couple of steps removed from the setting of a dystopian novel I was working on (now shelved indefinitely) around the same time as beginning my urban fantasy work; in present-day Ireland, they only keep her hooked up for a short time, and they don’t appear to be forcing psychotropic drugs on her, but still, this is a very Handmaid’s Tale way to treat a young woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant.

Something tells me they don’t roll out the protective orders for suicidal people who aren’t pregnant. Now that the baby is out, there’s nothing stopping her from killing herself.

Delivery at 25 weeks is nearly the bare minimum required for a fetus to survive delivery. There’s a reason why nearly all parents with wanted pregnancies keep them going closer to 40 weeks if at all possible. Staying alive after such a premature birth is doable, but it’s not healthy.

The physical effects (her mental health is clearly irrelevant as far as the state is concerned) of Cesarean section are far from trivial, especially compared to abortion. She’s been forced into a major operation, with permanent effects, in order to deliver an extremely premature infant whom she did not want to conceive in the first place and will not raise.

I do understand where the Irish government is coming from, in handling such cases this way. If one pregnant woman can say she’s suicidal and get a safe abortion in an Irish hospital, it won’t be long until ALL women with unwanted pregnancies can get terminations just by claiming to have suicidal thoughts. Before you know it, the Republic of Ireland will be known as a country where any woman can get a pregnancy terminated legally by a qualified doctor. Everyone knows Ireland is supposed to outsource their abortion care to Great Britain. Anything less is a travesty. The woman in this case was unable to travel to the UK for a legal abortion. I’m seeing from other sources that she is not an Irish national, so it’s probably an immigration concern that kept her from making the trip. It’s the most disadvantaged and desperate women who can be forced to keep their pregnancies to the point of just barely viability, and who can be taken into state custody to keep from starving themselves. Those with more control over their life circumstances can exercise their right to reproductive freedom in other countries.

But that said, how far does it have to go? How many more women have to go on hunger strike, or successfully kill themselves, before the Irish government decides that allowing legal abortion to happen within its own borders would not be the worst thing ever? How many women will they incarcerate and force into major abdominal surgery for the sake of barely viable micro-preemies before they start re-examining their priorities?

A relationship in which equal rights do not exist.

If you’re involved in the secular community, you may have noticed recently that some people have said/done some things regarding the debate over abortion rights that some of us uterus-bearers think the secular community could do without. I’m on Greta’s side in this one: fuck that shit. Go look at #UpForDebate to see how we feel about calmly and rationally debating our rights in keeping a handle on our lives. (Note: if that hashtag discussion seems grotesque and barbaric, that’s the point. That’s how it looks to us secular uterus-having feminists when we’re asked to debate abortion rights like we don’t have a knife held to our throat.) Anyway, I just want to examine the “secular pro-life” argument which PZ held up for our vegetable-throwing, as amplified without criticism by Hemant Mehta. This is what Ms. Kruszelnicki, the Pro-Life Humanist (*ahem* womb-controller who doesn’t believe in God**), says to defend her position:

If the fetus is not a human being with his/her own bodily rights, it’s true that infringing on a woman’s body by placing restrictions on her medical options is always a gross injustice and a violation. On the other hand, if we are talking about two human beings who should each be entitled to their own bodily rights, in the unique situation that is pregnancy, we aren’t justified in following the route of might-makes-right simply because we can.

Emphasis mine.

What happens when both a woman and her developing fetus are regarded as human beings entitled to personhood and bodily rights? Any way you cut it, their rights are always going to conflict (at least until womb transfers become a reality). So what’s the reasonable response? It could start by treating both parties at conflict as if they were equal human beings.

Emphasis hers.

The nature of pregnancy means that there can be no equal rights between gestational parent* and fetus. Everything the pregnant person eats, drinks or breathes goes to the fetus, and there’s nothing the fetus can do about that. If the pregnant person doesn’t get enough sleep, or exercises the wrong way, it can put the fetus at risk. If the pregnant person does drugs, especially the totally legal alcohol, that can permanently and adversely affect the fetus’s well-being. The fetus is completely helpless and dependent on its gestational parent. Basically, the fetus has no way to assert its bodily rights. The fetus doesn’t make decisions. It consumes, grows, develops, eliminates, and after a certain point it also moves around. But it doesn’t get a choice in what it consumes, and it doesn’t have the neural equipment to communicate its preferences even if it had any.

I am even so bold as to say that the concept of “bodily rights” is meaningless when we’re talking about a fetus. The fetus’s rights can only be decided externally, and they can only be enforced by a third party having control over a pregnant person’s life for the duration of the pregnancy. Unless the gestational parent is under lock and key, the fetus is at the mercy of their whims.

Which means that if the gestational parent doesn’t want to be pregnant, upholding equal rights between parent and fetus is a very sticky situation, at best. Which is why we get these cases of pregnancy losses*** being handled as criminal cases.

If there’s a conflict between the bodily rights of the pregnant person and the rights of the fetus, then one side must be held as superior over the other. If the pregnant person is barred from having a safe abortion, then the fetus clearly has more rights. If the pregnant person must fit some narrowly defined criteria before they can access abortion care (as Ms. Kruszelnicki would have it) then the fetus’s rights are undeniably held as superior.

The “pro-life” position is really that the fetus gets all the protections and the pregnant person bears all the restrictions and responsibilities. This isn’t a state of equality. The fetus is in a position of desperate dependency on the ability and willingness of its gestational parent to take care of demself*. They’d be a lot more honest if they dropped the pretense of equality and simply admitted straight out that they want us uterus-bearers to bend our lives around our pregnancy outcomes because babies deserve that level of dedication. Really, that’s what they’re talking about. They want us to sacrifice our bodily autonomy in the interests of making more babies. A situation of “equal rights” never seems to conclude on the side of the person who’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be.

*Not all uterus-bearers have female gender identities. Trans men and non-binary assigned-female-at-birth people can also make babies. This is why I use terms like uterus-bearer, gestational parent and pregnant person rather than pregnant woman. Let’s not deny the existence of non-cisgender people who might give birth.

**I do not accept the term “pro-life” to describe the anti-abortion position, and this will not change in the foreseeable future. I’d rather work with a pro-choice person of faith than an atheist who thinks I can be compelled to give birth.

***Seriously, look at this shit. Look at where the concern for “fetal rights” leads in the lives of vulnerable and troubled people.

There is such a thing as bad publicity.

Oh, you suck, womb-controllers. You suck, you suck, you suck so incredibly hard.

Some survivors of the actual Holocaust are still alive and will not be amused at your appropriating their suffering for your cause. This goes beyond attention-whoring and into pathology.

As part of its “Do You Know? Do You Care?” campaign, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust staged a protest Thursday outside of the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum. The activists not only held signs reading “ABQ: America’s Auschwitz,” they entered the museum to hand out leaflets and demand it commission an exhibit comparing the Holocaust to abortion. They did not, by their own admission, know much about the laws they came to protest.

[…]

The activists were mostly from California, and some of them paid $250 to attend the “FIRST-EVER ProLife Leadership Camp,” hosted in Albuquerque because the group considers it to be “the Abortion Capital of the Southwest and the Late Term Abortion Capital of the country.” An anti-abortion coalition that includes Operation Rescue claims to have collected over 25,000 signatures from Albuquerque natives in support of an October ballot measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

You compare Albuquerque to Auschwitz, and demand the museum devote space to an exhibit that compares the systematic extermination of numerous minority groups by the ruling majority to legal abortion access?

No. This is not okay. The millions of people who died in the concentration camps were not helpless little proto-humans whose mothers didn’t want them; they were grown, breathing, struggling people with fully realized lives already underway. There were some who escaped. There were some who managed to evade the Nazi authorities who wanted to kill them. They weren’t just lucky, they fought for their lives. They weren’t dependent on the Nazis for their survival; they were slated for extermination because they were defined as inferior due to ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability. The Nazis decided that the “true” Germans were inherently more deserving of existence, and took it upon themselves to free up more space by getting rid of the so-called inferiors.

The only thing aborted fetuses have in common is that their mothers didn’t want to be pregnant. It’s not “genocide” to allow women to terminate their pregnancies. Family planning is not racism. Fucking hell.

I don’t know how many of those teenagers from California actually believe that aborted fetuses are comparable to Holocaust victims, but I do know their behavior is reprehensible. Go to your room and sit in a corner, you self-absorbed, callous little fuzz-nuggets. Think about what you’ve done.

 

Family planning “advice” that works for no one.

I would like to co-sign this rebuttal by Natasha Chart on the expenses that pregnancy and childbirth tend to incur. I will especially highlight this passage here, as this is the tabula rasa of basically every abortion debate:

Lastly, though she mentioned it first, Fiano complained about my lack of discussion of personal responsibility, lamenting sarcastically that “it’s cruel to expect women to abstain from sex if they aren’t ready for a baby.” In a word, yes. That’s cruel.

Sex drive is basic to human nature. We’ve been having sex as a species for a long time—close to 200,000 years by now if you believe in the same science that gives us miracles like advanced antibiotics and level 3 neonatal intensive care units—and many of us are sick of being made to feel guilty about it.

I’m going to take it as a given that Fiano disapproves of sex outside of marriage. And I’m going to guess that when she talks about personal responsibility, it’s code for the people the forced birth movement always acts like they’re talking about exclusively: childless, unmarried teens and early 20-somethings. (Nothing gets their predominately male audience frothing like young girls having unauthorized sex, and Fiano clearly knows her audience.) This creepy voyeurism is stomach turning and is probably at least as much to blame as widespread racism for the conservative movement’s demographic death spiral.

Even as a married woman, I reject the idea that sex should always be about being ready for a baby. No matter how guilty many people feel in public when they’re shamed into mumbling their agreement about the evils of “irresponsible” sex, not all married people are always ready for a baby, even if they already have children.

To be more clear, if Fiano isn’t planning to join the Quiverfull movement, or isn’t one of the less than 20 percent of Catholics who agree with the church hierarchy on contraception, to suggest that women (not men, naturally) should abstain from sex if we don’t want babies is an extreme minority position. If she is planning to do something like that, well, there’s a reason the Duggars have a reality TV show—because most modern U.S. citizens have decided not to live like that.

Emphasis mine. I should change that clause to “precious few married people are always ready for a baby, especially if they already have children.” When anti-choicers tell us “If you don’t want a baby, then don’t have sex” as if we’re too stupid to have known already that vaginal intercourse is the cause of pregnancy, they’re proposing a system of family planning that nobody actually practices. No one really controls their reproduction by never having sex, ever, in the years when they’re not interested in creating new humans. Try telling a married new dad that not only does he have to wait for his wife to recover from childbirth before he can have sex with her again, he has to wait the next year and a half or so until she’s ready to get pregnant again. Seriously? He’ll be having none of that. The idea isn’t really for long-term abstinence to become the new birth control; the idea is for births to be uncontrolled and for women to take the blame for not putting Bayer aspirin between their knees.

Non-procreative sex isn’t just a part of life, it’s a vital part of building families. The supposedly simple formula of “no sex until you’re ready for babies” is cruel precisely because it’s unrealistic.

Won’t someone please think of the masturbating fetuses!

Dude, what?

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” said Burgess, a former OB/GYN. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”

So, a male fetus can masturbate at 15 weeks, but not a female one?

Have you seen a newborn make these “purposeful” movements? Babies can’t even coordinate reaching and grasping until around 11 months after birth. Do 15-week fetuses somehow have better motor control than already-born infants?

Something tells me this former OB/GYN is taking orders from the voices in his head. Are we expected to debate the supposed ability of male fetuses—ONLY male fetuses—to jack off, with a guy who doesn’t know how to use pronouns? I’ve lost enough brain cells to listening to womb-controlling pseudoscience already.

Finally: what does the supposed existence of fetal pain have to do with the right to life? We don’t outlaw homicide because the victim feels pain; we outlaw homicide because killing other people is bad. Killing a person who’s sound asleep with a lethal injection is still a felony. If an embryo’s right to be gestated to live birth overrides a woman’s right to own her body (and I have yet to hear an argument for this aside from “OMG you had sex!!!”), then it shouldn’t matter whether it can feel pain and pleasure. A life is a life is a life, regardless of how its nerves function, and an already-born person who can definitely feel pain isn’t entitled to use another person’s blood.